By Rebecca Bushnell

A better half to Tragedy is a necessary source for an individual drawn to exploring the position of tragedy in Western heritage and tradition.

  • Tells the tale of the old improvement of tragedy from classical Greece to modernity
  • Features 28 essays through well known students from a number of disciplines, together with classics, English, drama, anthropology and philosophy
  • Broad in its scope and ambition, it considers interpretations of tragedy via faith, philosophy and heritage
  • Offers a clean review of historical Greek tragedy and demonstrates how the perform of interpreting tragedy has replaced considerably some time past decades

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Extra resources for A Companion to Tragedy

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This remains, even in our ‘‘Western democracies,’’ an idea whose appeal should not be difficult to understand. It is most visible perhaps in the two most accessible tragic treatments of Dionysus, Aeschylus’ trilogy about Lycurgus and Euripides’ Bacchae. ’’ In this he was profoundly mistaken. In the Homeric version Lycurgus is punished by being blinded by Zeus. But in Aeschylus it is Dionysus who does the punishing, by inciting Lycurgus to a frenzy in which he kills his own son. In Euripides, too, the resistant autocrat is punished by the Dionysiac frenzy that inspires the maenads, led by his own mother, to tear him apart.

From the human perspective one character, Tyndareus, believes that there were. But in the Greek representations the human perspective is limited. So, the audience’s perception, I suggest, would have been that in those circumstances, only part of which are intelligible to mortals, Apollo’s command revealed what was the best way to deal with an extremely bad situation – however dreadful that remedy. So, one of the perceptions articulated in this tragedy was that the ways of the gods are unfathomable, but this is intertwined with the perception that even when people think that the gods have abandoned them, it is not true – if they have followed the gods’ will; ultimately the gods help those who obey them, whatever it may look like; there is suffering, and this suffering is not annihilated by what will happen in the future, but eventually the suffering will come to an end, and things will work out.

In the fourth he escapes from King Lycurgus into the sea, and Lycurgus is consequently blinded by Zeus (Iliad 6. 130–40). All three of these Homeric associations – with death, with wine, and with autocratic resistance – persist throughout pre-Christian antiquity. Is it possible to 32 Richard Seaford find any connection between them, any formula which subsumes them all? One possibility is the idea that has its most influential form in Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (1872; see chapter 5 in this volume), namely that Dionysus embodies the confusion of boundaries, which may result in the unity of opposites.

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A Companion to Tragedy by Rebecca Bushnell
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